45 novice drivers involved in fatal incidents


A TOTAL of 45 learner drivers were involved in fatal collisions over the past three years when travelling illegally without a qualified driver, according to Minister for Justice Alan Shatter.

Some 74 unaccompanied learner drivers were involved in collisions resulting in serious injury over this period, the Minister has told the Dáil. He said the Courts Service had no information on the number of unaccompanied drivers convicted following involvement in a fatal or serious collision.

However, the involvement of unaccompanied learner drivers in fatal collisions is falling; from 21 in 2009 to 10 last year.

Despite the high number of serious incidents involving the holders of learner permits, the courts appear to be treating infractions of the rules with leniency.

Last year 3,150 learner drivers on provisional licences were summonsed after they were found to be driving unaccompanied, and 854 of these were convicted, Mr Shatter told Labour TD Tommy Broughan. The average fine was under €150, and the maximum fine of €1,000 was not imposed in any of the cases.

Also last year 2,718 learner drivers received summonses for failing to display L plates. Some 634 were convicted. The average fine was €133.50, and in no case was the maximum fine imposed.

Since 2008 learner drivers on a second provisional licence are required to be accompanied by a fully-qualified driver. However, almost half of such drivers are flouting the law, a recent Garda operation found.

Operation Learner Driver, carried out in March and April, involved stopping 2,200 learner drivers. It found 43 per cent were not accompanied by a full licence-holder. It also found that 30 per cent of learner drivers were not displaying L-plates.

Up to March 31st, there were 235,984 learning permit-holders in the State.